Hat-wearing Newcastle indie types Maximo Park are back with a sixth album of tightly-wound bookish songs, titled Risk To Exist. As ever, they combine a lively and catchy guitar-led sound with lyrics about society and the like: it is indeed a Risk To Exist in these times eh? Released by the Daylighting label
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It’s the hat that is the problem isn’t it? I do wonder if Paul Smith is distracted by the constant need to keep it on even when he’s jumping around on stage. I simply can’t imagine the stress he puts himself through.
'Risk To Exist’ is a classic of it’s kind in that it’s the absolute perfect example of a band running totally out of ideas. First up it’s on Cooking Vinyl - known worldwide as the label where bands to go to die, second from the get go it sounds like a band going through the motions creating something listenable but devoid of true inspiration. Opener ‘What Did We Do To You To Deserve This’ is played in the same limpid sort of semi-disco style that makes later Franz Ferdinand albums so unmemorable but the real clincher is the last minute or so when the band veer off into a kind of semi-jam that leaves the track literally dribbling to a halt. ‘Get High (No I Don’t)’ would be the nadir of most bands careers - the sort of funk jam people write when they can’t remember how to write songs. The chorus is catchy enough but at best it’s indie disco fodder way below what should expected from a band who started out so promisingly - check out ‘A Certain Trigger'. Even a couple of years ago were writing the odd interesting track such as ‘Brain Cells’ yet here they are smooth sailing through a sea of ok-ish-at-best indie.
There’s the odd decent moment here and there when inspiration hits such as ‘Risk to Exist’ with it’s staccato verses and unfurling catchy chorus and singer Smith tries his best throughout with some clever word play and an increasing political edge. Though he should probably steer away from the semi-rapping he attempts on the despairing ‘The Hero’ which musically has all the loose limbed funk and white boy soul of a Haircut 100 B side and while ‘Work and then Wait’ wins 2017’s ‘Where Is My Mind?’ riff soundalike it saves itself only with an anthemic chorus welded on.
Fans will probably accept this and be happy with the band as a reliable live draw but there’s little or no sign of the literate and vibrant band they once promised to be.
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